The hostile environment and the Brexit effect

In a recent blog we updated readers on the latest developments towards offering EU citizens settled status when the UK leaves the EU. There’s another side to the story though – and it’s one that links back to the Windrush effect: the settled status application leaves EU citizens at risk of the ‘hostile environment’ designed to make people in the UK illegally leave voluntarily.
 
Settled Status application rather than confirmation of rights
 
Rather than confirm the right of the 3 million or so EU citizens living, working, and raising families in the UK, the Government’s approach has been to set up a process to apply for ‘settled status’. 
 
Although the application process hasn’t been finalised, there’s already a ‘cut off’ date in place. Miss the deadline, and EU citizens with the right to be in the UK after Brexit may find themselves without the paperwork to prove it. Sound familiar?
 
A repeat of the Windrush effect
 
‘Application’ also implies the possibility of ‘rejection’. Caroline Nokes, Minister for immigration, confirmed in February 2018 that
 
“The Home Office will work with applicants to ensure that their application is not refused on minor technicalities, and caseworkers considering applications will exercise discretion in favour of the applicant where appropriate. As a result, we expect the vast majority of cases to be granted.” 
 
The Government already anticipates that not every EU citizen currently in the UK lawfully will be able to stay after Brexit. There are plenty of scenarios which could, in practice, lead to a settled status application being rejected. And the Home Office doesn’t have the best record when it comes to making mistakes. 
 
With reduced access to basic services, restrictions on working in the UK, no legal aid, and bank accounts frozen, alongside a data protection exemption meaning people will be unable to access information about their immigration status, EU citizens could face significant problems if they miss the deadline to apply for settled status, or have their application rejected.
 
As leading immigration lawyers in London, we are on hand to help any EU citizen concerned about their immigration status after Brexit. Equally, OTS Solicitors is highly ranked in the Legal 500 for immigration and Human Rights and we regularly help clients with all aspects of their immigration status, and those facing removal and deportation. If you need help and advice to regularise some other aspect of your immigration status, get in touch. Book your appointment with oe of our expert immigration lawyers today by calling 0207 936 9960.
 

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